I feel obliged to reveal the answer to a minor mystery laid down in the archive of this blog with more cunning suspense than anything Dan Brown could conjure up: the subject(s) of the interview that took me on a Jalfreizi jet to New York and, ultimately, to casualty and a month on crutches. Please carefully put down all fragile objects, the Phew! moment is here. It was Duran Duran.
The interview will run this weekend in the “Live” (as in LIVE each day, not perform LIVE!) magazine supplement of the Mail On Sunday. It was a decent interview – or “talk” as they/we say in the trade, with a good “line (angle) – which is them talking about the sudden departure of guitarist Andy Taylor.
They’re a pretty good bunch to meet. Very normal, gracious, grounded, a laugh. They’ve been there and done it all and got out alive. By “it” I mean everything – the girls, the drugs, the booze, the fame. They are all in their mid-forties now, but they are still doing it – although without the substance support. Good on them. Their energy and indestructible desire for it all is quite remarkable and, no matter your musical taste, their back catalogue is impressive.
I had a drink and a chat with Simon Le Bon at Carina Round’s gig later that day. I reminded him that we had met years earlier – 1992/3’ish, I think. (“Hey, Rob, it’s you! Have you done any good comebacks since then?” Numerous). Naturally, he didn’t remember and I wouldn’t have bothered if we hadn’t met at a slightly memorable event, rather than, say, a quick Hi at a party. No, I met Simon on one of my all-time favourite fantasy writing jobs that turned to mush in the face of cold-stone reality. And I’ve had a few.
Hello! and Autocar magazines asked me if I wanted to cover the inaugral London to Venice race of luxury super cars against the Orient Express. What a gig, yes of course. Imagine it – me, in a Ferrari or an Aston, hurtling across Europe, a babe taking notes for me in the passenger seat. Champagne and a masked Venetian ball on arrival, followed by a chilled out return trip on the Orient Express to rock my hangover away. I’ll murder to do this job.
I turned up at Victoria Station for the gala send off. The train was there in all its romantic Pullman splendour and the cars looked, well, amazing, and I’m not even a petrol head. Consider, if you will, my surprise when the race began and I was still on the platform with my photographer. When the fumes eventually dispersed, we were led to a silver Renault Espace, our home for the next 20-odd hours with other hangers on. Surely some mistake? No. Our vehicle was driven by a chain-smoking lunatic who was having a great time being “involved” in such a glamorous event. I’m not involved in anything, I thought, I’m in a van with you, you nutcase. I’m involved in misery. He insisted on playing Salt ‘n’ Pepper’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ at full blast every time the party mood slackened. I had bus fever before we got past Maidstone.
Anyway, Venice in October was deserted, freezing and wonderful. We made it in time – only bloody JUST! – to attend the big party at the Cipriani. My solo glide across the lagoon on the hotel’s wooden Riva* was worth every fist-clenching, tooth-grinding hour on the road. Well, just about. I remember chatting with Simon that night. He had won the race in a red Diablo and was very happy. He smooched the party away with Yasmin before slipping back to their suite to rest his aching ankles from all that pedal pumping. The Diablo is a tiring drive. Me, on the other hand, had a sleepless night in a twin room in what amounted to a hostel for the homeless with the photographer snoring like a sick pig. Then it was back into the no-Effingspace. Now that’s what I call rock ‘n’ roll.
*Le Bon told me he owns a Riva.